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In Argentina, the family man Julio Madariaga is the patriarch of his family and considers his farm the paradise on Earth. One of his daughters, Luisa Desnoyers, has married the Frenchman immigrant Marcelo Desnoyers and they have one son, the playboy Julio, and one daughter, the gorgeous student of Sorbonne Chi Chi. His other daughter, Elena von Hartrott, has married the German Karl von Hartrott, and they have three sons: Heinrich, Gustav and Franz. In 1938, Heinrich returns from Germany for a family reunion and when he tells that he has joined the SS, the displeased Julio Madariaga has a heart attack and dies. When France is occupied by the Germans, the family reunites in Paris and Franz is the Nazi administrator in France. The alienated Julio has a studio where he paints, and has a love affair with Marguerite Laurier, the wife of the owner of a newspaper Etienne Laurier that is fighting in Belgium. Meanwhile Chi Chi joins the French resistance and is arrested. Julio uses the ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When Karl is proposing a toast in honor of the family reunited at last (1h 01'), we can see Julio successively in the mirror and in close-up. In the mirror he has a glass in his left hand, but in close-ups the glass is in his right hand. The left-right hand images alternates three times. See more »
A film that's always been held in a great deal of affection here in Spain (and not just because it's a Blasco Ibañez story, nor because hearing it dubbed into Spanish relieves us of Angela Lansbury). As far as I'm concerned, and pace the other reviewers, Glenn Ford's utterly convincing portrayal of Julio is by far the best thing about it. So what if he's a bit long in the tooth? a great many real-life playboys are, and his maturity makes the romantic dilemmas posed by the plot all the more poignant. From start to finish he's seriously, dangerously likeable, which he certainly needs to be in order to win the love of a beautiful, intelligent and patriotic Frenchwoman over her heroic Resistance husband. The romance actually convinces, against the odds, and saves a movie that might otherwise easily have been a ghastly flop.
After all, what else is there? Andre Previn's music is impressively dramatic but there is a worrying lack of restraint in the score, both in the overblown intro and the pretty but intrusive "love theme" cue, complete with solo violin, which insists on being heard every time the hero and heroine so much as glance at one another. The "four horsemen" vision manages to stay just this side of Monty Python (with the aid of swirling clouds), but doesn't save the opening scenes of the film from lurching full-pelt into overplayed melodrama (the death of the patriarch Madariaga: one too many thunderclaps for a start), and doesn't tie in too well with what was eventually left in from Blasco Ibañez's tale (pestilence? famine? where?). The plot is 100% predictable, and the rest of the acting is competent without being memorable.
I must admit, though, I was impressed by the very Minnelli-esque sequence which took Ford's eyes staring at a scene of dancing and frivolity between Nazi officers and collaborationist women, superimposing the two and mixing in newsreel-style war footage; likewise, Henreid's heartstopping portrayal, in one scene, of a man almost broken by torture, emerging from a Gestapo jail; and the finely judged acceleration at the end towards the story's predictable but satisfying climax. Not a film I will want to make a habit of seeing, but would certainly stand a second and maybe even a third viewing.
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